The TCS New York City Marathon
I don’t even know where to begin. Words fail to illuminate the experience that was The New York City Marathon. Running a marathon is really hard but it's the sort of pain that is overshadowed by the experience itself. It's a feeling anyone who's crossed that finish line knows but words fail to describe. All the hard work, all the fear, all the reservations, they all are drop kicked in the face one you cross that finish line. I can not believe how incredible yesterday was. I know I sound like a broken record and who in their right mind describes running a marathon as "fun" but you guys, seriously it was so much fun! This marathon was INSANE! I knew it was going to be a huge day but it was so much bigger than I anticipated. The waves of emotions that I experienced were unprecedented. Ecstasy, pride, pain, accomplished, humbled, thankful and belonging were among the many different feelings I experienced yesterday during the marathon. So let's relive yesterday because I can not stop talking about it (my coworkers I'm sure want duck tape placed over my mouth).
New York can be one of the most isolating cities in the world. We’re surrounded by thousands of people who don’t make eye contact and who don’t acknowledge one another. Yet every year the New York City Marathon happens and over a million New Yorkers brave the cold to bang cowbells, hold inspiring or funny signs (often both, thank god), and come together to celebrate the 50 THOUSAND people who run the New York City Marathon. It was overwhelming. It was incredibly, incredibly overwhelming. I spent the last 3 miles of the race unsuccessfully fighting tears. I couldn’t stop crying. You spend months preparing to run a marathon and to have the support of your entire city, to have thousands of people yell your name, it’s humbling. I wish I could go back and give everyone a hug or a cupcake. You don’t understand what it means to us to have your support. You get us through the race.
What was really eerie, I didn’t feel like I was going to run a marathon all weekend. The morning of my first marathon I was petrified and overcome with this anxious energy. I couldn’t stop shaking. This time I just felt like I was waking up early for any other race. I wasn’t nervous or excited I just felt mundane. I checked my email right when I got up and found multiple warning emails from the NYRR warning us about the high winds. Our heated tent was no longer a heated tent because they couldn't enclose it due to the high winds and they advised us try to dress as warm as possible. So I wore all the layers and unfortunately had to say goodbye to my favorite flannel pants.
Here's the best part about this race, the one thing I was stressing about was power! I wasn't sitting around worried about whether or not I was ready, I was stressing about the amount of mophies I had on me. I went into this race with 2 mophies and 1 external cell phone charger hidden in my chest. At least now if the apocalypse happens I know I will have phone power for at least 16 hours. The TCS NYC Marathon ladies and gentlemen, powered by Mophie.
Because the race started in Staten Island, marathoners had to be bussed or ferried into the start village. Because I ran the marathon with Team for Kids we had special charity busses and a police escort that we promptly lost 5 minutes in. But even sitting on my bus with my team mates who were abuzz with excitement and nerves, I still didn’t feel like I was going to run a marathon! I sat there wondering when the nerves would come or when the realization would happen. My coach had to drag me kicking and screaming out of that bus. I mean what would you rather do sit in a warm heated bus on a cushioned seat or sit in 40 degree temperatures, on the floor, with a billion mile an hour winds? You choose the bus every time!
It was surreal being amidst the thousands of runners in the start village. This marathon is on another level. Everywhere you go you hear runners speaking in different languages, all brought together dressed like hobos in their endless layers, trash bags, foil blankets, and running shoes. The hours we spent in the start village flew by. Getting into our corrals was MADNESS. It felt like we were all aboard the Titanic and we were trying to get into the last life boat. People were even yelling, "Women and children only!" (OK I WAS YELLING WOMEN AND CHILDREN ONLY.) But it was incredibly stressful trying to get through to our coral. No one was moving. I only just made into my coral when the cannon went off but I took my time to get one last potty break in, shed my layers, and move with the heard to the start. They were blasting New York, New York and that’s when it hit me. That’s when the wave of excitement came over me. I just kept exclaiming, “OH MY GOD WE ARE ABOUT TO RUN A MARATHON!” And then began the New York City Marathon.
The second I crossed the starting line the wind smacked me in the face. It was INSANE how strong the winds were. We were being pushed around, jackets were flying off the bridge, the wind was HOWLING, and I, of course, couldn’t stop laughing. It was the perfect start to the race. It made it that much more epic. I felt like my bib was going to be torn off my chest and I can’t believe I didn’t lose my hat. It was seriously the craziest way to start a marathon.
I took off WAY TO FAST. I was just to gosh darn excited you guys. I always do this, but I was trying very hard to run a smart race. I spent the entire summer working on my negative slits and I blew it right from the start. I was doing 8:30/8:45 minute miles (which is really, really fast for me) when I was supposed to be doing 9:15/9:30 (which is still fast for me) minute miles. But the adrenaline was killer! And once we made it out the wind tunnel that was the Verranzano we were warmly greeted to the cheering spectators of Brooklyn which only fanned the fire! Brooklyn was hands down my favorite part of the race. I found my family around Mile 8 and I was SO excited to see them! My sister went to five different parts of the race and was the real champion of the NYC Marathon. She made all these incredible signs and was all over the race ready to help me with anything I needed. She was there at the hardest points of the race hugging me and telling me, “You got this! Keep going! I love you!” My sister is incredible.
One of the best parts of the race was coming off the Queensboro Bridge onto 1st Avenue. When you're on the bridge you can hear this soft roar that gets louder and louder until you turn onto 1st Ave. Then you greeted by THOUSANDS of spectators who are just screaming at the tops of their lung's. It’s a straight shot up to the Bronx and you are never alone. There were so many spectators that the screams were deafening. I had to take my ear bud out because I couldn’t even hear my music. It was amazing! I love to run with music but this race I ran with one ear in the entire time so I could hear. It’s such a loud race and having people cheer for you, you want to thank them!
The fatigue started around mile 18. Even though I was uncomfortable I didn’t feel like I needed a break. I just worked through it and concentrated on the people around me. Smiling was a huge part of this race. The sorest part of my body right now are my cheeks because I smiled so much. It made a world of difference; it’s in those moments of extreme pain (and there are moments of SERIOUS pain) that putting a smile on and making eye contact with spectators is a game changer. That is what get's you to put one foot in front of the other. This marathon was incredible because I never once worried about or dreaded how far I had to go. Normally I break the race up and focus on small goals to keep me going but I was so consumed with the surroundings and the crowd that I never had that moment of dread when I realized how far I had to go. I was aware of where I was in the race but it was always in a I am practically done sort of way. It was at mile 22 when I told myself that I was practically done that I started to lose it.
I couldn’t keep it together. I had this huge wave of emotions come crashing over me. I started to think about my brother. I missed my sister right around where I started to get emotional, and thank god I did because she had a sign that said, “Scott would have been so proud of you.” I probably would of had to sit down had I seen that sign. Running and crying is really very hard, much harder than taking selfies and live instagram-ing them. I couldn’t catch my breath but thank god I just kept going. Just having that realization of how far I’ve come coupled with people constantly screaming, “Go Kelly!” It was overwhelming. It was incredible. I never once felt like I was doing it alone.
Going through Central Park was surreal. I’ve logged well over a thousand miles there and to have it be the final push of the marathon just felt like home. There were thousands of people, carrying me through, and that’s when I really lost it. Then seeing the finish line, and the grandstand, I just dissolved into a puddle of tears. This huge thing that I had worked so hard for was over. I not only hit my goal of not walking but I did it in exactly what I thought I would between 4:10 and 4:15. I didn’t feel like totally spent during the race. I had done everything I needed to do and that was incredible for me. Running the New York City Marathon is life changing. I never thought I could run a marathon and now I’ve done 2. I ran my first marathon in 04:43:39 this time I did 4:11:38.
This Thanksgiving will be my 2 year running anniversary and it’s pretty unbelievable to see how far I’ve come. I went from hating running (like really seriously hating running) to finding a purpose in it. It’s given me more than I could have ever imagined. Yesterday as I came closer and closer to the finish line I just kept thinking "I can’t believe I am doing this. I can't believe I actually trained for and ran a marathon, AGAIN!" A marathon is kind of the perfect parallel to life. It takes work, passion, and a strong belief that you can do it. You have to work through extreme pain and discomfort for a very long time and then when it’s all over you realize the pain was only temporary. What I’ve learned is that if you don’t take risks, if you don’t dare to fail, then what are you doing? Sometimes you need to remind yourself that you can do anything with enough hard work and determination.
Not everyone is going to like what you do and not everyone is going to support you. Lots of people actually will subtly try to discourage you without even realizing they are doing it. We live in a world where everyone has the ability to broadcast their opinions regardless of whether they are constructive or not. But it’s your life. Don’t let anyone stop you from doing something you enjoy. Don't let ANYONE stop you from trying. DON'T STOP YOURSELF FROM TRYING! I wish we lived in a world of "sticks and stones" but I get it. Words can really kill you. But the reality is if you don’t have someone’s support, that isn’t your problem. Turn your cheek and keep pushing yourself. Take risks and dare to fail. Dare to be different. Dare to try new things. The only person that really needs to believe in you is you. If you aren’t having fun or if you aren’t happy, make a change. You can do absolutely anything you want regardless of your resources or support. You just have to find a way and try really fucking hard. (Excuse the French)
Thank you all for joining me yesterday. Thank you for being a part of the best day of my life, it wouldn’t have been as momentous without you. Until tomorrow, #RunSelfieRepeat.